It is safe to say that the New York Knicks are not a very good basketball team at the moment. Despite that fact that the lowly Eastern Conference franchise does have a few key pieces already in place for some future success, the Knicks have yet to truly turn the corner while continuing to struggle mightily thus far into the 2019-20 regular season.
With the likes of forward Kevin Knox, center Mitchell Robinson, power forward Julius Randle, guard Frank Ntilikina, and rookie swingman RJ Barrett ready to lead the way going forward, it is obvious that these players will still need time to develop into future stars.
However, there is no guarantee that all of these players will pan out while the Knicks also own a slew of NBA Draft picks over the course of the next few years — which could serve as both insurance and future trade capital. Even with the aforementioned group showing some serious skill and potential along the way this year, New York has just six wins in total in 2019-20.
Because the Knicks are currently in no place to win now, New York will need to improve in both the present moment and immediate future. For that reason, perhaps the Knicks can begin targeting players that could be of use for the rest of this season and into the coming years.
Maurice Harkless (Los Angeles Clippers)
Despite the fact that Harkless is now in the midst of the final year of a four-year contract that he previously signed during his time as a member of the aforementioned Trail Blazers, the veteran swingman can do two things that the New York sorely need: three-point shooting and defense.
It is no secret that the Knicks are not a top-notch defensive team while New York can certainly score when hot. With an offensive mindset clearly in place, though this has become a bit better under the direction of interim head coach Mike Miller, the Knicks absolutely have to improve on the other end of the floor. Harkless would improve the young Knicks in more ways than one, however, as he can become a veteran leader, shoot the three ball and significantly aid the team’s defensive prowess.
If the Knicks are able to acquire Harkless from the Clippers, who have reportedly shown interest in potentially acquiring New York power forward Marcus Morris, the Eastern Conference franchise should look to lock up the former St. John’s star long-term.
Dennis Schroder (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Though former Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. was initially pegged as the team’s point guard of the future upon being acquired by the New York Knicks via trade last season, the up-and-coming signal caller hasn’t really panned out since originally arriving in the “Big Apple.”
Journeyman point guard Elfrid Payton is also on the Knicks roster, though he has become more of a role player at this stage of his NBA career. As a result, the Knicks really need to find themselves a true starting point guard that can dish the rock and get to the rim to score.
It is true that Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina could quickly become a key piece of the puzzle going forward, the Frenchman and former first-round NBA Draft pick is not what many would consider to be a true point guard. Ntilikina’s shooting has certainly improved while he is one of the few Knicks that can actually play defense, but his status as the team’s No. 1 point guard does not and will not allow him to play up to his full potential.
If the Knicks are able to acquire Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Dennis Schroder perhaps Ntilikina’s play can advance to a new level while the team’s overall situation at the point guard position would immediately improve.
Because the Thunder have both former Los Angeles Clippers swingman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and longtime NBA point guard Chris Paul handling the ball, Oklahoma City could be prone to ultimately parting ways with a player like Schroder, who previously served as a staple of the Atlanta Hawks franchise.
It is also worth noting that unlike the aforementioned Maurice Harkless, Schroder is not a free agent until the 2021-22 season, which means he is under team control through the rest of this season and next. This should go without saying but the Knicks should not break the bank to acquire Schroder midway through this season.